"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Progress Peek

I am spending a lot on mental energy and linear time developing what will be a really cool controller for the Taig Micro-mill. I want it to be a solid option for my customers who buy a Taig CNC ready mill from me and want a complete system. Read “Sneak Peek” previously.

I don’t plan to make a nickel on this controller. I can personally build an even better one if I wanted to but there is no need for a “better” one. The new one is top notch. I also do not want to be in the business of supporting electronic devices I built myself (as a manufacturer). My own homebuilt controllers have been wonderful but I do not desire to sell and support them.

What it comes down to is where do I want to be spending most of my time, building controllers or making jewelry with my excellent performing mill?

What I want to do is use my tools. The controller just becomes a transparent device that hides in the shadows and gets the job done. I don’t want to keep fooling with it. It’s just a reliable tool I don’t need to constantly upgrade and maintain. I may “tweak” a setting in MACH 3 once in awhile but I don’t want to go in under the lid into the hardware.

I am nearly there. The refining process is fun but I do not want the development period to last forever. I know when to freeze a design. I really want to get back to using my time and my machine for creative work.

I have two Taig machines so I will eventually have the new one available for local sale. I am not looking forward to trying to repack the mill for… Continue reading

G-Wizard Update

No, this is not a user update report on the software program G-Wizard. It is still a great CNC must have application.  I just did a new update to my personal copy that I have been using for more than a year with several previous updates. Look here for the original  REVIEW. G-Wizard just keeps getting better. What I want to mention is just a little quirk in this latest upgrade.

I ran the new update without deleting the existing program on my computer and got the install error message as is described on the G-Wizard update page. It has to do with some new security files that are incompatible between versions.To actually install the update (after downloading) I had to manually delete my old version using the windows control panel. No big deal and this process and reason is clearly explained on the download page so I won’t describe it further here.

My only hesitation was if I deleted the old version using the control panel I might loose all my settings. I was confident Bob Warfield (CNC Cookbook and designer of G-Wizard) would have warned me about that so I didn’t hesitate very long. I also know windows seldom if ever does a truly complete “clean wipe”  deletion. I am sure that is by design, just for reasons such as this.

The update was otherwise quick and painless and I was presented with a new looking calculator screen. There is also a huge increase in the program speed. All my old setups returned and now we are running at a new and faster full speed ahead.

Keep the good stuff coming Bob!

Rhino Crazy

I have spent the last couple of weeks deciding what I was going to do to upgrade my CAD/CAM software. Not the software I use for Over Head Routing. I have one of the best for my purposes and cost restraints in the form of Vectric  Aspire.  I use it a lot and always find new things I can make or design using it. Aspire is not going to go away for something better in its class for a long time.

As the title suggests my struggle has been what do I do with my aging (over six years old) McNeel’s Rhinoceros and its CAM plugin, MecSoft’s RhinoCAM. I use this combination to do the things that Aspire was never designed to do in CAD/CAM, A few example projects are the stepper motor heat sinks on HB2, a complicated replacement gun part in aluminum, and the detailed A3 locomotive driver wheels I machined from stainless steel.

Rhino really rocks in the drawing department. Well, that is what it is, a 3D drawing program. I started with Version 3 and somewhere along the line I upgraded to version 4. It’s been in Version 4 for quite some time, but there have been updates on a regular basis. Version 3 was fun but when V4 arrived, I knew it was a real pro users program. I am now running the Beta for version 5 and it is another major leap.

Rhino sells for around $1000 new and about half that for upgrades. So I have probably $1500 invested in Rhino over 6 – 8 years. I don’t know where V5 upgrade will be priced, but I will be there.

MecSoft RhinoCAM is a special edition of Visual Mill that runs inside Rhino as a plug in. It is NOT a… Continue reading

Thinking Small for 2012

I am investigating very intently the world of very small CNC machining. I am looking at small items such as mold machining for model parts and jewelry sized items using very small milling bits and high speed spindles. Actually I should call it CAD/CAM/CNC. It is far more than running the CNC mill.

I also looked at micro machining but that is a very high tech world that is still outside the needs and abilities (and machinery) of the personal machinist. It is truly amazing what can be done in the very tiny micro machining. I am not going there.

What I can do using my Taig CNC Micro Mill and a +10,000 rpm spindle is overwhelming. My recent Christmas ornament project is what has driven me into this investigation. The fantastic finish in wax that I was able to obtain actually surprised me. The Taig is a truly capable machine in this precise machining task.

I have now found web information of other, higher speed spindles added to the basic XYZ Taig movement. The Taig non-linear bearings and ways actually are up to the task for precision machining. I have many hundreds of hours of operation on my machine and it is still holding the performance line.

For now I consider myself “good” as far as machinery needs. I also have the appropriate software for CAD/CAM. That may change but not for quite some time. I will be adding a forth axis very soon, but other than that, I am comfortable.

I have the HB2 for larger projects and I will use the Taig for my miniature machining. I hesitate to use the word “micro-machining” but I am thinking it within my own definition.

I will also continue in my mold making and casting of components. I will definitely… Continue reading

Milling Wax Adventure

The year is running out fast. I will soon have to say good-bye to 2011. This is the year (last Saturday actually) that I became 65 years old. Time enough for pondering that event, now to keep moving. Ha!

I did some machining of wax on the Taig CNC mill Saturday. I love machining wax (the hard blue kind). The wax is not good for creating real finished useful items but it makes excellent models for making molds and doing casting.

I spent the morning doing the design work in VECTRIC Aspire software. I was creating a Christmas ornament as a negative. I learned how to mirror and reverse the lettering and other “thinking inside out” processes in 3D design.

The afternoon was spent machining the design into the wax, using the Taig CNC mill. That was an adventure.

I haven’t run that machine for some time. The milling started out OK, but I got a couple of stalls and lost steps in the Z axis. The mill has never done that before so it was a surprise. I wasn’t pushing rapid travel or cutting speeds that hard either. Lifting the spindle and motor is fairly hard work.

The rapids are only set at 65 IPM and I was running about a third of that. So I ran through the software set-up and MACH3 warned me I was pushing the limit on pulses for the pulse generation frequency for which I had MACH 3 set. The Taig has twenty TPI screws so it takes a lot of very short pulses with 1/8th stepping (32,000 per inch) to get any speed from the drives.

That’s 32,000 per inch so at 60 IPM travel (keeping the math simple) that’s 1 inch per second requiring 32,000 Hz (32 kHz)… Continue reading

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